This coming Sunday night, our community will mark once again Yom HaShoah – our remembrance of the Holocaust with an Interfaith Service sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council. Jack Weinstein, Temple member and director of the San Francisco Bar Area office of Facing History and Ourselves will offer what I am sure will be a compelling and thoughtful address entitled: Memory and Legacy – A Holocaust Educator’s Journey.
During the course of the year, many times I will write about an upcoming event at Temple and express the hope that you will attend. Yet, for the Yom HaShoah service, writing that I hope you attend is completely inadequate.
The very nature of this Yom HaShoah service is different from any other event we hold throughout the year. It is, in part, religious, in that we offer prayers in memory of those who perished. The Yom HaShoah service is, in part, educational. As we listen to our speaker, our knowledge of that terrible time will be expanded. The Yom HaShoah service is, in part, a social event in that we join with others in a communal environment.
But there is a something wholly unique about a Yom HaShoah service that transcends the customary categories of religious, educational, and social. For, in my view, one does not attend a Yom HaShoah service. One comes to bear witness.
We come to remember the unspeakable. We come to gaze again into a chasm of hatred and anguish and suffering, to acknowledge the depravity and evil that exists in the world. We come to say Kaddish for those for whom there is no family remaining to say Kaddish.
The Yom HaShoah service of remembrance is not something you attend. It is a service that should compel us to be present, to bear witness, to remember and never to forget.